Paste magazine list forgets there’s also a western part of Massachusetts

The Sun Parade is just one of the bands from western Massachusetts that Paste magazine overlooked.

Paste magazine recently launched its 50 States Project, which seeks to compile lists of worthy bands in every state in the country, an ambitious and laudable undertaking. Their Massachusetts list, though, is disappointing.

All 10 of the bands writer Katie King chose are from the greater Boston area, which ignores a wealth of musical talent on the other side of the I-95 loop around the Hub. Here, then, for her next list, are five western Mass. bands to consider, even without factoring in all the local indie-rock luminaries (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Frank Black), the supremely talented Erin McKeown or the dismaying surfeit of turgid metal:

1. Winterpills. The Northampton-area group plays elegant folk-pop songs that unfold slowly around around hushed vocal harmonies and impressionistic lyrics. The band this year released its fourth, and best, LP, the gorgeous “All My Lovely Goners.” Bonus: Guitarist Dennis Crommett, bassist Brian Akey and drummer Dave Hower play together in another band, Spanish for Hitchhiking.

2. The Sun Parade. Also from Northampton, the core duo of Chris Jennings and Jefferson Lewis just released “Yossis,” a full-length debut of rootsy rock songs.

3. Bobby. Comprising graduates of Bennington College in Vermont and Hampshire College in Amherst, members of Bobby settled in Montague, Mass., to make experimental music laced with elements of psychedelia, avant-folk and dreamy, reverb-soaked pop. The band released a self-titled debut in 2011 on Paritsan Records.

4. Zebu! Speaking of experimental, the duo Zebu!, founded at Hampshire College in 2003, describes its music as “improvisational surf noise punk that defies the logic of rational musical creation.” Bonus: singer, etc., Ted Lee runs Feeding Tube, the best, weirdest record store in western Massachusetts.

5. Rusty Belle. A trio from Amherst that describes itself as “roots-rock junk-folk,” Rusty Belle plays understated, whispery songs that slip right into your soul and linger there.

Other acts worth hearing: Haunt (though leader Matthew Hebert has apparently moved to Austin), Jamie Kent (who in 2010 planted his latest CD in every Starbucks location in Manhattan), Henning Ohlenbusch (whose latest, “Henning Goes to the Movies,” features nine songs based on movies) or any of Matt Silberstein’s various projects, from the Salvation Alley String Band to Trucks.

Have other suggestions? Add them in the comments!

  16 comments for “Paste magazine list forgets there’s also a western part of Massachusetts

  1. ryan
    June 22, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Fancy Trash!!

  2. Kristen
    June 22, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Unless I missed something, Haunt hasn’t been in the valley for years.

    • Eric R. Danton
      June 22, 2012 at 4:31 pm

      You’re right, looks like he moved to Austin. Feel free to suggest a substitute.

  3. Kristen
    June 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    The Fawns! Made up of a lot of the same folks but Lesa Bezo is fantastic.

    • Eric R. Danton
      June 22, 2012 at 4:53 pm

      Excellent, not familiar with them. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Peter Steinberg
    June 22, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    The David Wax Museum may tour all over the country — they’ve even been to China! — but they live in Western Mass., and we count them as ours.

    And let’s not forget perennial favorites The Lonesome Brothers.

  5. Max
    June 22, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Thank you for the Spanish for Hitchhiking mention, Eric!

  6. Jenna Wikler
    June 22, 2012 at 8:08 pm


  7. madeloni
    June 23, 2012 at 6:37 am


  8. madeloni
    June 23, 2012 at 6:43 am

    Speedy Ortiz, Bunny’s A Swine, School For The Dead, Young@Heart Chorus, Ray Mason, Rick Murnane, Evelyn Harris….

  9. July 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm


    • Dave
      July 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      Lonesomes! Absolutely

  10. Mike
    July 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I doule the Fancy Trash! great band.

  11. Jason
    July 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    David Wax Museum!

  12. July 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Egg, Eggs!

  13. diva
    July 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Outdates, Honeysuck, Potty Mouth, and Home Body!

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